Tag Archives: Latin America

Mexico – Lonely Planet Travel Video






Mexico – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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The United Mexican States, commonly known as Mexico is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2 million square kilometres, Mexico is the fifth-largest country in the Americas by total area and the 14th largest independent nation in the world. With an estimated population of 109 million, it is the 11th most populous country. Mexico is a federation comprising thirty-one states and a Federal District, the capital city.

In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica many cultures matured into advanced civilizations such as the Olmec, the Toltec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya and the Aztec before the first contact with Europeans. In 1521, Spain created the New Spain which would eventually become Mexico as the colony gained independence in 1821. The post-independence period was characterized by economic instability, territorial secession and civil war, including foreign intervention, two empires and two long domestic dictatorships. The latter led to the Mexican Revolution in 1910, which culminated with the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution and the emergence of the country’s current political system. Elections held in July 2000 marked the first time that an opposition party won the presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI).

As a regional power and the only Latin American member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1994, Mexico is firmly established as an upper middle-income country, considered as a newly industrialized country and has the 11th largest economy in the world by GDP by purchasing power parity, and also the largest GDP per capita in Latin America according to the International Monetary Fund. The economy is strongly linked to those of its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Despite being considered an emerging power, the uneven income distribution and the increase in drug-related violence are issues of concern.


According to the World Tourism Organization, Mexico has one of the largest tourism industries in the world. In 2005 it was the seventh most popular tourist destination worldwide, receiving over 20 million tourists per year; it is the only country in Latin America to be within the top 25.

Tourism is also the third largest sector in the country’s industrial GDP. The most notable tourist draws are the ancient Meso-American ruins, and popular beach resorts. The coastal climate and unique culture – a fusion of European (particularly Spanish) and Meso-American cultures; also make Mexico attractive.

The peak tourist seasons in Mexico are during December and during July and August, with brief surges during the week before Easter and during spring break at many of the beach resort sites which are popular among vacationing college students from the United States. Mexico is the twenty-third highest tourism spender in the world, and the highest in Latin America.


The paved-roadway network in Mexico is the most extensive in Latin America at 116,802 km in 2005; 10,474 km were multi-lane freeways or expressways, most of which were tollways. Nonetheless, Mexico’s diverse orography—most of the territory is crossed by high-altitude ranges of mountains—as well as economic challenges have led to difficulties in creating an integrated transportation network and even though the network has improved, it still cannot meet national needs adequately.

Being one of the first Latin American countries to promote railway development, the network, though extensive at 30,952 km, is still inefficient to meet the economic demands of transportation. Most of the rail network is mainly used for merchandise or industrial freight and was mostly operated by National Railway of Mexico (Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México, FNM), privatized in 1997.

In 1999, Mexico had 1,806 airports, of which 233 had paved runways; of these, 35 carry 97% of the passenger traffic. The Mexico City International Airport remains the largest in Latin America and the 44th largest in the world[120] transporting 21 million passengers a year. There are more than 30 domestic airline companies of which only two are known internationally: Aeroméxico and Mexicana.

Mass transit in Mexico is modest. Most of the domestic passenger transport needs are served by an extensive bus network with several dozen companies operating by regions. Train passenger transportation between cities is limited. Inner-city rail mass transit is available at Mexico City—with the operation of the metro, elevated and ground train, as well as a Suburban Train connecting the adjacent municipalities of Greater Mexico City—as well as at Guadalajara and Monterrey, the first served by a commuter rail and the second by an underground and elevated metro.


The telecommunications industry is mostly dominated by Telmex (Teléfonos de México), privatized in 1990. As of 2006, Telmex had expanded its operations to Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and the United States. Other players in the domestic industry are Axtel and Maxcom.

Due to Mexican orography, providing landline telephone service at remote mountainous areas is expensive, and the penetration of line-phones per capita is low compared to other Latin American countries, at twenty-percent. Mobile telephony has the advantage of reaching all areas at a lower cost, and the total number of mobile lines is almost three times that of landlines, with an estimation of 57 million lines.[122] The telecommunication industry is regulated by the government through Cofetel (Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones).

Usage of radio, television, and Internet in Mexico is prevalent.[119] There are approximately 1,410 radio broadcast stations and 236 television stations (excluding repeaters).[122] Major players in the broadcasting industry are Televisa—the largest Spanish media company in the Spanish-speaking world[123]—and TV Azteca.

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Panama – Panamania!





Panama – Panamania!

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Panama, officially the Republic of Panam, is the southernmost country of both Central America and, in turn, North America.

Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Panama City.

Panama is an international business center, and although it is only the fourth largest economy in Central America, after Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador, it is the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America.


The culture of Panama derived from European music, art and traditions that were brought over by the Spanish to Panama. Hegemonic forces have created hybrid forms of this by blending African and Native American culture with European culture. For example, the tamborito is a Spanish dance that was blended with Native American rhythms, themes and dance moves.

Dance is a symbol of the diverse cultures that have coupled in Panama. The local folklore can be experienced through a multitude of festivals, dances and traditions that have been handed down from generation to generation. Local cities host live Reggae en Español, Cuban, Reggaeton, Kompa, Colombian, jazz, blues, salsa, reggae and rock performances.

Outside of Panama City, regional festivals take place throughout the year featuring local musicians and dancers. Another example of Panama’s blended culture is reflected in the traditional products, such as woodcarvings, ceremonial masks and pottery, as well as in its architecture, cuisine and festivals. In earlier times, baskets were woven for utilitarian uses, but now many villages rely almost exclusively on the baskets they produce for tourists.

An example of undisturbed, unique culture in Panama stems from the Kuna Indians who are known for molas. Mola is the Kuna Indian word for blouse, but the term mola has come to mean the elaborate embroidered panels that make up the front and back of a Kuna woman’s blouse. Molas are works of art created by the women of the Central American Cuna (or Kuna) tribe. They are several layers of cloth varying in color that are loosely stitched together made using an appliqué process referred to as “reverse appliqué”.


Tourism in the Republic of Panama kept its growth during the past 5 years. The number of tourists arriving between January and September 2008 was 1,110,000, 13.1% or 128,452 visitors. This was a significant increase to the 982,640 travelers who had arrived in the same period of 2007, a year that beat all records regarding the entry of tourists into the country.

The arrival of tourists from Europe to Panama grew by 23.1% during the first nine months of 2008. According to the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), between January and September, 71,154 tourists from the Old Continent entered the country that is 13,373 more than figures for same period last year.

Most of Europeans who have visited Panama were Spaniards (14,820), followed by Italians (13,216), French (10,174) and British (8,833). From Germany, the most populous country in the European Union, 6997 tourists arrived.

Europe has become one of the key markets to promote Panama as a tourist destination. In 2007 1.445.5 million entered into the Panamanian economy as a result of tourism. This accounted for 9.5% of gross domestic product in the country, surpassing other productive sectors.

Panama´s Law No. 8 is still the most modern and comprehensive law for the promotion of tourism investment in Latin America and the Caribbean. In so-called Special Tourism Zones, Law 8 offers incentives such as 100% exemption from income tax, real estate tax, import duties for construction materials and equipment, and other taxes.

Panama has declared different parts of the country as Special Tourism Zones which are benefited with multiple tax exemptions and tax holidays.

International trade

The high levels of Panamanian trade are in large part from the Colón Free Trade Zone, the largest free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere. Last year the zone accounted for 92% of Panama’s exports and 64% of its imports, according to an analysis of figures from the Colon zone management and estimates of Panama’s trade by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Panama’s economy is also very much supported by the trade and exportation of coffee and other agricultural products.

The Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the governments of the United States and Panama was signed on October 27, 1982. The treaty protects U.S. investment and assists Panama in its efforts to develop its economy by creating conditions more favorable for U.S. private investment and thereby strengthening the development of its private sector.

The BIT with Panama was the first such treaty signed by the U.S. in the Western Hemisphere. A Trade Promotion Agreement between the United States and Panama was signed by both governments in 2007, but neither country has yet approved or implemented the agreement.


There are several theories about the origin of the name “Panama”. Some believe that the country was named after a commonly found species of tree. Others believe that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies abound, and that the name means “many butterflies” in indigenous tongue.

The best known of these versions is that a village populated by fishermen originally bore the name “Panamá”, after a beach nearby, and that this name meant “many fish”. Blending all of the above together, Panamanians believe in general that the word Panama means “abundance of fish, trees and butterflies”.

This is the official definition given in Social Studies textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education in Panama. Some believe the word Panama comes from the Kuna word “Bannaba” which means “distant” or “far away”. Kunas are one of the native tribes of the Latin American nation. Ultimately, the etymology of the word Panamá is not very clear.

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Santiago, Chile – Lonely Planet Travel Video





Santiago, Chile – Lonely Planet Travel Video

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Santiago is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the center of its largest conurbation (Greater Santiago). It is located in the country’s central valley, at an elevation of 520 m (1,700 ft) AMSL. Although Santiago is the capital, legislative bodies meet in nearby Valparaíso.

Approximately three decades of uninterrupted economic growth have transformed Santiago into one of Latin America’s most modern metropolitan areas, with extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping malls, and impressive high-rise architecture. The city has some of Latin America’s most modern transportation infrastructure, such as the growing Santiago Metro (the metropolitan underground train system) and the new Costanera Norte, a toll-based highway system that passes below downtown and connects the Eastern and Western extremes of the city in a 25-minute drive. Santiago is headquarters to many important companies and is a regional financial center.



Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is Santiago’s national and international airport. 15 minutes from downtown through the urban highways (Costanera Norte-Vespucio Norte).
Has rental car services, taxi cabs, transfer and buses available within the premises of the airport. Airport Commodore Arturo Merino Benítez has many projects.

They include the expansion of the area of (check-in) desks national international and the Customs and (Equipaje claim) baggage claim area. Furthermore, is the construction of new doors in international and national terminals.

The green areas are not left behind, the Ministry of public works in conjunction with the DGAC and the airport operator the construction of a park facing airport to fulfilled an area of recreation and leisure users from this airport Hall have projected. The enlargement project proposed by the concessionaire was supported by the Ministry of public works, however, the Ministry believes that this is only a measure to cure airport congestion for only about 5 years, after of which would overwhelm.

For this reason, the Ministry advises from 2008 with Paris Aeroports to create the master plan expansion. Meanwhile, the Ministry adopted plan of works presented by the dealership related to improving the service and installation of a new bridge boarding at the national terminal (door 28).

Retail holding Censosud s.a. prepares the opening of a shopping centre in the vicinity of the air terminal specifically on the grounds of ENEA, 7 kilometres from the airport. In parallel ENEA, Urbanya, Prairie and recently Cencosud joins the project finance the extension of the metro to the Mall and the airport with an extension of line 1 from the station pajaritos.


Trains operated by Chile’s national railway, Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado, connect Santiago to Chillan, in the central-southern part of the country. All such trains arrive and depart from the Estación Central (“Central Station”) which can be access by bus or subway.
The routes and coverage are from:
Santiago-San Fernando.

Inter-urban buses

Bus companies provide passenger transportation from Santiago to most areas of the country, while some also provide parcel-shipping and delivery services.

There are several bus terminals in Santiago:
Terminal San Borja: located near the Metro station “Universidad de Santiago”
Terminal Los Heroes: located near the Metro station “Los Heroes”
Terminal La Paz: located in the municipality of Independencia, the closest Metro station is “Puente Cal y Canto”
Terminal Alameda: located near the Metro station “Universidad de Santiago”


Toll road, inter-urban free flow highways connect the city’s extremes, including the Vespucio Highway (which surrounds the city describing a semi-circle), Autopista Central (which crosses the city in a North-South direction), and the Costanera Norte (which runs from the eastern edge, in Las Condes to the international airport and the highways to Valparaíso on the western side of the city).


Most of Chile’s population is Catholic and Santiago is no exception. According to the National Census, carried out in 2002 by the National Statistics Bureau (INE), in the Santiago Metropolitan Region, 3,129,249 people 15 and older identified themselves as Catholics, equivalent to 68.7% of the total population, while 595,173 (13.1%) described themselves as Evangelical Protestants.

Around 1.2% of the population declared themselves as being Jehovah’s Witnesses, while 0.9% identified themselves as Latter-day Saints (Mormons), 0.25% as Jewish, 0.11% as Orthodox and 0.03% as Muslim. Approximately 10.4% of the population of the Metropolitan Region stated that they were atheist or agnostic, while 5.4% declared to follow other religions.

There are about eleven million Catholics – around 70% of the total population (16.500.000 in 2008). There are 5 archidioceses, 18 dioceses, 2 territorial prelatures, 1 apostolic vicariate, 1 military ordinariate and a personal prelature (Opus Dei).

Catholicism was introduced by priests with the Spanish colonialists in the 16th century. Most of the native population in the northern and central regions was evangelized by 1650. The southern area proved more difficult. In the 20th century, church expansion was impeded by a shortage of clergy and government attempts to control church administration. Relations between church and state were strained under Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet.

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